Presented as an opportunity to positively stimulate and revitalize the Congregation, restructuring for mission was first formally recommended at the 21st General Chapter. The realities of the world and of our Congregation reinforced the importance of this initiative and to that end, years of prayerful discernment, discussion, preparation, and planning have resulted in the difficult decisions of withdrawing from ministry at structures where the Redemptorists have served. After 33 years of loving service, the Baltimore Province returned to the pastoral care of the Parish of St. Martin of Tours [St. Martins], Bethpage, New York, to the Diocese of Rockville Centre in August 2019. Of course, we grieved the loss of the Redemptorists from our parish, but we were also so grateful to have received countless blessings and graces from the experience of being in parish and mission with the Redemptorists. Recognizing that we embodied the richness of Redemptorist spirituality and charism, and nurtured over decades of Redemptorist ministry in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, we prayed for a way to creatively repurpose the value and importance of these fruits.
I had the honor of joining Fr. Francis Gargani, CSsR, at the North American Secretariat for Partners in Mission [PIM] Workshop at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in November 2019. As I interacted with the various professed Redemptorists, Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, and Redemptorist Associates, I recognized myself and my fellow parishioners. With creative fidelity, I realized that Partners in Mission could be the way for a transitioned parish to maintain a modified, but continued relationship with the Redemptorists, despite the absence of daily interactions with the Redemptorists to which we were accustomed. Grateful for the approval and support of our new Diocesan pastor, I began the process of promoting and organizing a post-transition PIM circle at St. Martins. The PIM circle at St. Martins has been meeting monthly for just short of three years. I continue to work with Fr. Francis as the Baltimore Province PIM Committee Lay Co-coordinator and our Province Lay Coordinator to the North American Secretariat for PIM, which led to the unique opportunity of my participation as one of three lay vocals at Phase I of the 26th General Chapter and our Conference Assembly.
Our post-transition involvement with the Redemptorists has been an organically unfolding experience as we continue to share Redemptorist spirituality at St. Martins. Our monthly PIM meetings are opportunities for faith sharing and prayer as we reflect on Redemptorist Saints and Blesseds or an aspect of Redemptorist Spirituality. Our PIM group spent the day in community with the Redemptorists at Immaculate Conception in the Bronx, New York, assisting the Missionary Sisters of Charity at their shelter and soup kitchen, concluding the day with a Mass back at the church. We collaborate with the Vocation Directors to create a vocation prayer ritual where each member of our PIM circle prays for and has the opportunity to correspond with a single Redemptorist student. During Covid lockdown, we initiated two different movements to collect electronic devices so that hospitalized and isolated Covid-19 patients can communicate virtually with their loved ones – this initiative had the support of our Diocese as it was promoted in their newsletter as well. During Advent and Lent, PIM members facilitate Morning Prayer for the parish and always incorporate aspects of His plentiful redemption when offering brief reflections on the readings. Three evenings of Novena prayers and a feast day Mass continue to be hosted for the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The tradition of an annual Mass and individual blessings with relic for the Feast Day of St. Gerard has also continued; we advertise our St. Gerard Mass in the local paper so we reach a broader community and the Mass is always well attended. To learn more about our PIM circle and to view my witness video, please go to https://www.smtbethpage.org/parish-life/partners-in-mission
We credit the Holy Spirit for all of the blessings that helped foster our continued presence in the Redemptorist Family. Grace finds many ways to be present, regardless of circumstances. There is so much gratitude that needs to be expressed as the PIM at St. Martins did not accomplish our work in isolation. We are thankful that in all of our interactions, a loop of grace exists with our Redemptorist Family – what God has given, and has been received, was passed forward to others. We treasure that an extended and global Redemptorist Family so generously offered their support, encouragement, and prayers as we created and continue to grow the PIM circle here at St. Martins. Thank you, all.
On Sunday, October 16, 2022, the Feast of St. Gerard Majella, our Redemptorist Associate Enrollment Ceremony was celebrated by Fr. Francis at the 12 noon St. Martin of Tours Parish Sunday Mass. Fr. Francis enrolled 14 new Redemptorist Associates who spent several years preparing for this moment; each received a Certificate of Enrollment and a Redemptorist mission cross. At the conclusion of Mass, Fr. Francis blessed the St. Gerard Majella/OLPH medals and literature that were distributed as part of the ritual of the individual blessings with the relic of St. Gerard Majella for those seeking pregnancy, adoption, or a safe delivery. Our Enrollment Ceremony Mass can be viewed at https://youtu.be/lxN9_jNq6fE [Fr. Francis’ homily begins at 19:10 and the enrollment ceremony begins at 36:27.] A luncheon followed at our St. Alphonsus Hall to celebrate the enrollment of our Redemptorist Associates. St. Martin’s pastor and associate priests joined us for the luncheon and our pastor led us in prayer before the meal.
In his message for the Feast of St. Gerard Majella, our new Superior General, Fr. Rogério Gomes, CSsR, wrote: “In the Congregation, there is space and mission for the Religious Priest, Brother, and laity. We are a missionary body with an incredible force of evangelization if we unite our strengths with the necessary creativity to announce the copiosa apud eum redemptio in this historical moment that God has given us.” As the newest Redemptorist Associates in the Congregation, this is our prayer. May Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Saint Alphonsus, our Redemptorist Saints, and Blesseds accompany us forward on this journey.
Lucy Burich McNamara
Baltimore Province PIM Co-coordinator